Right of reply

Fish and Game asked for right of reply to this post on farmers’ providing ammo for opponents.

I am happy to do so, here it is unedited:

James Houghton of Federated Farmers asks why farmers should buy licences to hunt ducks.  The simple answer is that under the law, the vast majority of farmers don’t need a game licence to hunt on their own land – a truth conveniently overlooked by Mr Houghton.

He also criticises Fish & Game very unfairly over our efforts to create new wetlands or enhance existing ones. We make no apologies for this; Auckland/Waikato Fish & Game owns over 1650 hectares of wetland in the Waikato, purchased using licence income. We currently have 19 wetland restoration or construction projects underway in the Waikato, the majority on private land, working with landowners. We also advocate actively and strongly for wetlands through the RMA process and will continue to do so.

Wetlands are important for waterfowl, both native and introduced. They are also critical habitats for several native fish species.  But surely as an advocate for the farming community, Houghton must be well aware of the role that wetlands play in enhancing water quality?

Instead of attacking the messenger, Houghton should be asking himself why water quality in the Waikato is still declining, and why the largest lake in the lower Waikato, Lake Waikare, is bright red from algal blooms.

After giving this some thought, he would do well to consider (as more thoughtful and forward looking members of the farming community already have), whether creating wetlands is one of the best solutions.

Ben Wilson

Chief Executive Fish & Game Auckland/Waikato Region

Paranormal pointed out, in a comment on the original post, as the letter above does, that farmers don’t need licences to shoot ducks on their own land.

That, is correct but not all farms have waterways and ponds, a lot of farmers shoot on other peoples’ land.


2 Responses to Right of reply

  1. Mr E says:

    I wonder if Ben knows – Water quality has been improving over the last 10 years. I wonder if it matters to him that when water quality was declining – Farmers were to blame. Now it is improving – it is unclear who is responsible.


    The exception to this improvement is Nitrogen. But Ben, rather than pat farmers on the back for their hard work, seeks to inflame the situation by insinuating that Feds know the cause of issues in the Waikato river and Waikare lake.

    I wonder if Ben has considered whether wetlands really are the best solution?

    I am pretty sure the Feds have considered it:
    Written by Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

    Here for the exert.

    “Equally, agriculture is vital for the export economy, and on-farm mitigation for nutrient loss costs money.Dr Richard McDowell, AgResearch, has calculated that artificial wetlands cost over $400 per unit of N and P conserved, fencing is somewhere between $4 and $55, Effluent ponds are in the range of $25 per unit of nutrient saved. A feed pad will be over quarter of a million dollars and a herd shelter over half a million to install. Although famers know the cost of mitigation, consumers don’t.”

    I wonder where Fish and Game NZ sit when it comes to the Water and Land 2020 programme? It is a collaborative process to progress environmental solutions, yet, to me, they seem intent on a mud slinging fight. Pardon the phrase.

    Do they know what collaboration means at all?

    I challenge anybody to go and visit their website, read the newsletter section and report back that Fish and Game are not targeting the Dairy Industry. That they are not trying to inflame dairy farmers with their rhetoric. Anybody – Please.



  2. Mr E says:

    No reports = No surprises.


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